Thursday, August 06, 2009

How To Spot An Employee Who Is Looking Busy At Work Without Really Working

wikiHow has a pretty funny how-to manual on how to look busy at work without really working (H/T Wendy). I figured I'd summarize their steps with helpful hints to HR on how to prevent employees from utilizing these "techniques":
  1. Know what your standards are - make sure to set high standards for your employees and make sure they're meeting them. As long as everything gets done, this should be fine.
  2. Create the illusion of furious activity whenever possible - the advice says to never have a clean desk. Insist on a clean desk policy for both compliance and Human Resources reasons. Papers left out on the desk can be bad for many reasons.
  3. Ask a lot of questions - this isn't actually a bad thing. They could be questions that others have or that creates provocative thinking.
  4. Open several of the applications you normally use for work and have them visible for your computer's desktop - create inactivity logoffs for your applications. That way, employees will be forced to do something or get logged out. They'll be so annoyed by this, that working will be less work that pretending to work.
  5. Be alert - switch up your game. If you're on a schedule of "checking up" employees will learn about that. It's like having a cop wait at the same intersection everyday: people will slow down just there. But if you switch around where the cop is, people will slow down everywhere.
  6. Watch out for Big Brother - just be one step ahead. My company blocks certain sites but they also block "virtual desktops" or "proxies" so that you can't get around their monitoring/website blockage. You can also drill monitors into the desks to keep them always in view (this will also prevent them from somehow "disappearing").
  7. Have lengthy personal conversations away from your work space - this isn't such a bad thing. Camaraderie amongst employees is a good thing. But try to limit the time they spend away from the desk. Walk by break rooms and conference rooms every once in a while to make sure no one is abusing the space
  8. Visit friends in different departments, leaving your workspace very "busy" looking - This is easy: if Bob says to you, his manager, he's talking with Joe about something, follow up with Joe once in a blue moon. See how easily they stick to the same story
  9. Drink lots of water - again, not a bad thing for employees to do. No way you can prevent them from constantly using the bathroom.
  10. Make a decoy screen - this is tough to catch. But stop by and ask them to show you something on an application, and I'm sure that decoy screen will be revealed
  11. Make personal phone calls away from your work space - as long as the person doesn't do this often, it's not a problem. But again, drop by conference rooms and break rooms once in a while to at least make it seem like you're paying attention to them.
  12. Always, always carry a backup prop - You should have a good idea how long certain projects should take. If they take longer, ask what happened
  13. Sending a package to yourself - if your employee wants to spend the money to do this, they're really desperate. I don't know how long it takes most people to open a FedEx...but this shouldn't really waste THAT much time
The only way to catch the slackers is to know the methods their using to slack. Time theft is a big deal, but there are little ways you can work around the "thief" and outsmart them!

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